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Reduction seen in severity of pain and improvement in sleep quality for patients after open-heart surgery.

Use of aromatherapy with peppermint oil after open-heart surgery attenuates pain and improves sleep quality, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

Mahla Maghami, from Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, and colleagues conducted a double-blind trial involving 64 patients to examine the effect of inhaling peppermint essence on pain relief and sleep quality after open-heart surgery. Participants were randomly assigned to aromatherapy or placebo in a 1:1 ratio and received inhaled aromatherapy using peppermint essence or distilled water, respectively. The researchers utilized the Numeric Pain Rating Scale and the St. Mary’s Hospital Sleep Questionnaire (a 14-question tool with lower scores indicating better sleep quality).

The researchers found that the mean severity of pain was 3.22 ± 0.88 and 4.56 ± 0.90 in the aromatherapy and placebo groups, respectively, which represented a statistically significant difference. After the intervention, the mean sleep scores were 20.10 ± 4.90 and 25.76 ± 6.36 in the aromatherapy and placebo groups, respectively, on day 1 and 18.63 ± 5.56 and 22.62 ± 5.69, respectively, on day 2; the differences were statistically significant.

“Considering the effect of peppermint essential oil inhalation on pain and sleep quality of patients after open-heart surgery, it can be concluded that this herbal product can be safely used as a complementary treatment in relieving pain and making patients comfortable after heart surgery,” the authors write.

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